Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) had an argument with one of his theology students with regard to the issue of whether all sins are forgiven during a confession. The student believed that only those sins that one named during the confession were forgiven. Metropolitan Hilarion claimed that all sins, named and unnamed alike, were forgiven during the confession. The student set forth
to look for the proof of his opinion in the writings of the Holy Fathers, but then he came back and admitted, «Yes, Your Eminence, you were right!»
God sets us free from our sinful past through the Sacrament of Confession. If we do not recognise this, we do not believe in God as the Ruler of all. If so, we do not believe in the sacraments of the Church. We do not believe in the power of God’s love — the love that suffers long, and is kind; it does not seek her own but also believes all things, hopes all things, and never fails.
Sin is when the bonds of love are torn apart, when one rejects love. True repentance, on the one hand, is recognition of our actions when we begin to understand them as a secession from God. On the other hand, it is a task that we set out to accomplish: things that we will no longer tolerate about ourselves.
If we confess our sins, it means that we have come to you, O Lord, in order to demonstrate that we are not okay with this sin and are resolute in our decision to fight it. The Sacrament of Confession loses its meaning if we simply re-tell our past in an attempt to make God purify us to «free some space for new sins», as some would jokingly call it. It is meaningless to submit a report about our past lives to God because He already knows what we have done and what kind of people we are. There is no repentance without a strong commitment to correct our wrongdoings.
Therefore, we should come to the confession having seriously reconsidered a previous stage of our lives. Let’s tell God about it. Most importantly, we should be careful not to get lost in details.
It is through the Sacrament of Confession that we return to the Father’s embrace and God accepts us. He removes our torn garments of sin and puts on us the home clothes that we used to wear as God’s children. Indeed, we are at home! We must never by any means doubt that. We ought to think better about God. He wasn’t careless when He created this world! God has revealed himself to us as the Heavenly Father who created this world and every one of us with true fatherly love. God’s plan about the whole world and each individual cannot be incomplete. God’s plan about the whole world and each individual is the Kingdom of Heaven where God shall be all in all (1 Cor. 15: 28). I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14: 2, 3), the Lord tells the Apostles during the Last Supper, and He says it to each one of us.
However, this does not diminish the freedom of our will, of our choice. We can say no to God’s plan; we can reject it. We have the opportunity to go away from God and we do go away from him by sinning. Sin is an act of treachery and betrayal, a step in the wrong direction. Fornication has a wide spectrum of meanings: it is more than just physical impurity in one’s relationships. Fornication means wandering, roaming about, losing one’s way, which leads to one’s death. Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father is waiting for each of us!
What can make us look into the future with confidence? The fact that God did not bring each human being from non-existence into existence in order to see him perish. He proved his love towards us by becoming a Man himself. He went all the way down the road with us. He died for our sake. He rose from the dead, trampling down death. How can we not trust such a God and how can we doubt him?